A George C. Marshall High School student asked to read poem 'blacker'

Jordan Shumate

Jordan Shumate is still in a state of shock over what he says his freshman English teacher told him to do as he read a poem aloud in class.

The 14-year-old George C. Marshall High School student was asked to read Langston Hughes' "Ballad of the Landlord."

He says that when he read a poem in his normal voice, his teacher asked him to read it “blacker.”

He is the only African American student in the class at the Falls Church school. And he says the fact he was singled out and asked to read it "blacker" shows racial insensitivity by his teacher.

“It's very, very unprofessional,” he says. “It should not happen. She didn't do it to any other kids, why did she have to do it to me.”

Jordan brought it to his mom's attention after a lesson in English this week about stereotypes. The freshman says he was again singled out to explain why African American people like grape soda and rap music.

His mother says she was humiliated for her son.

“We're in 2012 with the first African American president,” says Nicole Page, Jordan’s mother. “In this era how could such a statement be made, particularly by an English teacher.”

The student has identified the teacher as Marilyn Bart.

Fairfax County Schools released a statement Thursday saying: "Marshall High School administrators are taking these allegations seriously and school officials are vigorously pursuing an investigation of these incidents."

The teacher in question has retained the General Counsel for the Fairfax County Teachers Union, Bill Reichhardt, as her representation. He said Tuesday that she has requested an investigation into Shumate's claims.

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